Underground: The Julian Assange Story

As part of their Meet the Filmmaker series, Underground: the Julian Assange story has been playing at Cinema Nova all this past week in Melbourne. The movie was principally made as a telemovie and was primarily funded by Channel 10 (and it was aired last year).


Alex Williams, Laura Wheelright, and Robert Connolly

The movie is based on the book Underground by Suelette Dryfus (1997). Suelette is a Computing and Information Systems researcher at the University of Melbourne, where I work. She has given guest lectures on subjects I have taught, and I was first introduced to the book while studying hypertext theory with Dean Kiley in 1997.

I identified with the movie on several levels, partly because I am about the same age as Assange and share a similar history regarding the broader development of computing. Along with many of my peers, I witnessed hacktivism around the year 2000 within the anti-globalisation movement, but nowhere near on the scale and boldness of the individuals in Dryfus’s book (well, we built disobedient web pages when this was a special thing to do)

After the show, I met Alex Williams (who played Assange) and Robert Connolly (Director) in the Nova Bar and was struck by how approachable and generous they were. I also met John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father. This is Williams’s first significant role, and I am sure his performance in Underground will lead to other outstanding functions. Connolly, I liked a lot, primarily how he handled the Nova audience with the inevitable nutters mumbling in the background and asking odd questions that had little to do with the themes of “movie making and directing actors. It is a delightful movie and a wonderful time in history: the early days of the hacker underground and the adolescent development of Julian Assange.



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